BH.SE is a cool site. We're set up to handle hermeneutics and exegesis discussions well. These kinds of discussions are happening every day all around the world. Yet... we really don't have much activity here. At times I come by the site to see what I might be able to help out with, and it has been days since the last question was asked. In some cases there hasn't been activity of any kind for a day or more.

Let's face it: people out there have lots of questions about the interpretation of the Bible, they just (more often than not) aren't asking them here. And they should be. This is a good site and we're set up to handle it.

What can we do to get more folks to come participate here? A good answer might begin with the primary reasons for the low participation on this site.

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    I've been prolix of late on META; I'll make a comment and maybe someone will run with it. There are A LOT of new users who use this site for a multitude of reasons-there just aren't a lot of veteran users, who've mastered the skills necessary to contribute effectively and build the base of support. I encourage "veteran users" to "mentor" energetic new users to develop their 'voice' and gain traction, the rewards of which is having your work taken seriously, referenced and reviewed by others, as well as having fellow colleagues to share information with.
    – Tau
    Dec 11, 2014 at 20:05
  • Another GOOD QUESTION for META might be, "Why do Veteran Users burn out and leave?"
    – Tau
    Dec 11, 2014 at 20:08
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    @Tau Regarding burnout: meh. Scholars are weird and idiosyncratic. That's not going to change. :-)
    – Jas 3.1
    Dec 11, 2014 at 21:33
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    I believe it is 'incumbent' on veteran users to help new users 'find their way'-it's just when veteran users suddenly collapse or disappear, it leaves a trail of new users 'groping' for traction in an unfamiliar environment. So they get bored and leave.
    – Tau
    Dec 12, 2014 at 6:10

2 Answers 2


Poach questions from Christianity.SE :-p

I'm partly joking but partly serious. They fairly regularly get questions over there that would be a better fit over here. We need to help identify those and tactfully redirect (or "co-direct") their question over to our site.

We'll also need to be ready and willing to assist with editing the questions once they arrive so they meet our site guidelines. Don't just close them upon arrival if they're not yet polished up!

  • Possibly relevant: How soon should I vote to close? (No official SE input that I see there, but the answer is highly upvoted.)
    – Susan
    Dec 12, 2014 at 8:37
  • If you think C.SE questions are a better fit for BH there are two things that have to happen: They need to be actually off topic for C.SE (we don't migrate the gray zone questions that could go either way) and they have to be actually on topic for BH.SE. This almost invariably means they must be edited. Just suggesting "this would be better on BH" doesn't really help because OPs don't know what is wrong with their questions in the first place nor how to adjust them for migration. If you want it to happen hold their hand and actually get the questions edited so they can be migrated.
    – Caleb
    Dec 12, 2014 at 11:19
  • There are probably some of these already: compare Christianity.SE and this on Hermeneutics.SE. @Caleb might know others...?
    – Dɑvïd
    Dec 12, 2014 at 16:55

Helping New Users Understand "Site Directives" and Find Their 'Voice'

We do receive a fair amount of new users, who ask questions which are relevant to Biblical texts. They are NOT(for the most part) Biblical scholars; therefore they are not asking questions about Hebrew or Greek prepositions or verb endings, but are asking for answers that pertain to understanding Biblical texts or hermeneutics. An example is this question: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/q/15559/2479

This is a new user, who is asking a "hermeneutics" question in the way (she) understands, without having gone through all the debates about what is on or off-topic, and instead of "close voting" her, and consequently losing a potential contributor who asked an interesting question, we can help her 'edit' her question in keeping with Site Directives.

Her question, which deals with prophetic interpretation of Scripture, is answerable from the text but also takes into account the various "hermeneutics" people employ in discerning the understanding of Biblical prophecy. This field is wide open: there are many popular authors with best selling titles dealing with these issues and a genuine concern for "what does the text say" as opposed to what a particular author or group thinks.

However, it is incumbent on veteran users to help encourage these new users to help 'frame' their questions within our guidelines, and not "VtC" them just because they 'stepped' on some 'perceived' line which they have no clue existed within our Site Directives.

Of course, if we only want to answer questions concerning specific meanings of Hebrew or Greek words in their original composition, this crowd will go away, and we will be left with an occasional student(or scholar) to focus our attention on.

I've said in other posts on this topic, the new users are there, and they are finding this site. The 'onus' is to make them welcome and help them to 'adjust' to site expectations, and answer the questions of interest to them.

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    I'm not sure "directives" is the word to be throwing around here. Perhaps "distinctives" is more along the lines of what you mean to imply. In the mean time I agree that any effort old-timers put out to help educate new users is a good thing, but at the same time you make it sound as if expert level questions about original language issues are somehow a bad thing. Without coming out and saying it, this post sounds sort of like you are advocating for dumbing things down.
    – Caleb
    Jan 28, 2015 at 13:32
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    I don't see any reason to discourage VtC'ing anything that is actually off-topic or otherwise not in line with our guidelines. If anybody then wants to fix those posts so they are up to snuff great: they can be re-opened. A need to educate new users is not equivalent to a mandate for giving off-topic questions a pass and leaving them open to collect off-top answers. If they are a problem or going to make problems, shut them down. Then those with time and interest should help redirect them.
    – Caleb
    Jan 28, 2015 at 13:32
  • @Caleb The question asks for "How do we get more participation on this site?" I recommended a means by which we would get more participation, and gave an example of someone who posted such a question, which was immediately DV'd because of a 'nuance' in our site directives. They are "Site Directives" because if we didn't expect people to follow them, there would be no basis for Negatively Voting/Holding?Closing their questions. This question was NOT a problem question(I admit that there are those). It required a little 'tweaking' to satisfy the concerns of those who would answer.
    – Tau
    Jan 29, 2015 at 7:03
  • @Caleb (cont.) Now, about the 2nd part of your question: Yes, there is room for linguistics questions and may there always be so, just as there are questions concerning quantum physics formulas surrounding string theory on the physics site. How many people will participate in those? Try this: create a "Site Directive" that says, "We only want those who are able to write in Greek/Hebrew in the Original Languages to post here." I'll leave, as well as many others. Then you will wear yourselves out trying to find 'Academics' who are otherwise too busy with their 'required' writing to participate.
    – Tau
    Jan 29, 2015 at 7:14
  • @Caleb I think you know this already, but I will state it bluntly, "This Site Is About Enthusiasts, Who Have an Interest in Biblical Hermeneutics". The vast majority(including you, it seems) spend their time chunking out code, and look for the opportunity to do what their heart desires-discerning Biblical texts. They 'may' have some college or bible school training, a few have even taken Koine Greek, although they learned enough(like myself) to use the available tools. They "enjoy" their participation here; it gives them an opportunity to exercise a gift they otherwise wouldn't have.
    – Tau
    Jan 29, 2015 at 7:22
  • @Caleb (Lastly) So theerefore, it is not "dumbing down"-I don't consider the answers or questions "dumbed down" because they don't include some Hebrew/Greek text.
    – Tau
    Jan 29, 2015 at 7:26
  • @Caleb (Again-exceeded the 5 min. edit) The question at hand was an insightful one, if the OP adjusts her last sentance. I believe it is necessary for participants to adjust to Site Directives; this keeps our focus and prevents us from becoming a 'free for all forum'. If your emphasis, however is on 'erudition', you have elliminated a vast majority of users who could benefit from this site, and there you have your answer to this question; you frankly don't want more participation.
    – Tau
    Jan 29, 2015 at 7:55
  • "I don't believe there should be any minimum amount of knowledge required to ask about the original language(s) of a specific text" (source).
    – Dan
    Jan 30, 2015 at 2:19
  • @Dan Agreed. The point I was trying to make is there is a large swath of potential users out there who would readily avail themselves of this site if we didn't pull the welcome mat out from under them as they entered.
    – Tau
    Jan 30, 2015 at 9:20
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    @All People Vote With Their Feet, "Wow,I didn't realize it was so elitist with so many rules. I withdraw my question. – Laura J. Davis." Case in Point: The Atheists we are so inclusive about are not flocking to our site, however, Christians who take the Bible Seriously are, and are being re-buffed. So let's remain 'elitist' and forget about asking these sorts of questions.
    – Tau
    Feb 1, 2015 at 14:48

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